Should NYC landlords be fined for leaving their stores empty?

Amid a 27% vacancy rate on Amsterdam avenue on Manhattan’s Upper west side and a 20% vacancy rate in Soho, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is considering a vacancy tax or fine for Manhattan landlords that leave their stores vacant. The idea is in the planning stages without a concrete plan as to how it would work. Retail has been struggling due to the brick and mortar sales declining as internet sales have risen in the last several years.

NYP coverage

What amenities generate the most buyer interest in Manhattan?

There are a variety of different amenities that you will see in Manhattan new developments ranging from movie theaters, and golf simulators to swimming pools, catering kitchens and shared outdoor spaces and even an occasional tennis court.

This swimming pool is a new construction condo in West Chelsea

According to Jonathan Miller or Miller Samuel Inc. there is a perception that more is better. From my experience, buyers look for what makes sense for their lifestyle. In a larger projects, you have more room for amenities. For example in Waterline Square on the West side of Manhattan, you have a shared amenity space called the Waterline club which includes a soccer pitch and a tennis court among the many amenities.

This is the gym in the Zaha Hadid West Chelsea new development

Within an apartment or townhouse, you look at the condition of the apartment including the finishes in the kitchens and bathrooms but also the details.

A renovated bathroom in a Harlem brownstone including a claw-foot bath
Having space to entertain is crucial for the most discerning buyer and having that space be usable.

What amenities do you think are most important to have in a building and within the individual apartment or townhouse?

Mansion Global coverage

Is a renovation necessary to sell your Manhattan property?

Many times, prospective sellers ask if a full or partial renovation will help them to sell their Manhattan apartment? It really depends on several factors.

1-What is the competition like at your price point,neighborhood and building?

2-What is the age of your kitchen, bathrooms and flooring.

3-How long will the renovation take?

4- How much will the reno cost?

5- What is your current market value completely as is?

Let’s look at each one by one.

Competition- If there are several properties for sale that are similar to yours and many of them are renovated, you might have no choice but to do some work in your Manhattan pad before selling. However, if there is a shortage as can be the case for 2 bedroom/2 baths under $2 million for example,  the prospective buyer probably will be willing to do the work themselves.

Age of kitchens and bathrooms. If it’s been 30 or more years since the last renovation, you probably will benefit by doing the renovation. If it’s only been about 10 years then the answer is not as clear. Talk to your real estate broker to get an idea of how the apartment will be perceived by a prospective buyer given the age of the renovations.

Length of time for renovation to be completed-If it’s going to be a one year process due to building approval and contractor availability, it might be wise to forego it or scale it down a bit so that it can be completed in less time. Also, timing is an issue here. If the renovation completion date puts you right in the middle of the December holiday season, it might not be the best time to start marketing.

Cost of renovation- If you decide to complete a 6 figure renovation, it might or might not lead to a dollar for dollar return. It most cases it does not. For example if you have a studio apartment of 600 square feet with a value of around $800,000, a renovation of the kitchen, bathroom and flooring of around $50,000 may return dollar for dollar and also lead to a quicker sale. However, a $100,000 reno on the same apartment probably will lead to a quicker sale but not return dollar for dollar.

Sell as is? When you sell as is, you do not complete any renovation and just sell what you have. What you see is what you get and in some cases this might even be the best strategy depending on the above factors and your personal situation. Consult with your real estate broker.  Normally, they can recommend a good contractor to do work if that is needed as well as advise you as to what will yield a return and what will not.

If you examine your current market value as is, then you can see if it makes sense to do a renovation, knowing the cost and time involved. For example if the current market value is $2,500,000 and you want to do a $500,000 renovation that will lead to a $3 million sale, it obviously does not make sense. But also consider the time of the year now, market conditions and the time of the year when the renovation has been completed. The purpose of any renovation, large or small prior to selling your Manhattan property is to widen the buyer pool, and make it easier to sell and this has to lead to at least a dollar for dollar return, otherwise save your money and sell as is.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.


Is Spring time the best time to sell Manhattan residential property?

Many times, I am asked this very question by potential sellers and the answer is it depends. Right now we are heading into the spring and a shifting market.

In the beginning of the year, sales usually start to slowly build momentum as we climb out of the winter/holiday doldrums. We are seeing that right now as activity has picked up but with the threat of rising rates, who knows?

In the Spring, more sellers tend to enter the market also due to their desire to move during the summer when children are off from school. More competition is not necessarily good for sellers. I usually like to start working on a listing right before the Spring rather than wait. My advice is to look at your needs as a seller, current market activity and not position your listing to be forgotten because there is a major holiday in one week. I would like to also add that assessing the competing properties for yours will help too. For example, a few years ago, there was a glut of 2bd/2ba apartments in 400 Central Park west. This rarely ever happens. As a result, buyers had more choices. My recommendation was that if the seller could wait 1 month or so, some of these other properties might be in contract and as a result we would have less competition.

Two years ago, I sat down with another seller and there was only 1 similar property in the market in Park West Village on Manhattan’s Upper west side. I advised them to go for it. They did and as a result, we got a very high price due to the lack of competition.

The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.



Two Upper East side condos in contract sold for Bitcoin

Two Upper East side condos are in contract and the accepted payment is Bitcoin. 389 East 89th street, Magnum real estate’s condo conversion may be the first apartments in Manhattan sold for Bitcoin. One apartment is a studio and the other is a one bedroom.

NYP coverage

132 W 123 street Harlem garden condo Sold

132 W 123 street apt G in Harlem has now sold. The apartment was just over 1000 sqft with a 500 sqft garden and storage space in the cellar. It features 1 bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a working fireplace. The condominium in the 4 unit Mt Morris landmark brownstone was asking $999,000 and sold for asking price.

70% of New Yorkers say Tax reform has no or positive impact on home ownership plans

According to an Apartment List survey, 53% of those surveyed say that the new tax law will have no impact on their home ownership plans and 17% said it will impact them positively. Along party lines more Democrats feel that they are negatively impacted by the tax reform than Republicans. Also, 31% of Democrats surveyed in impacted counties said they will wait longer before purchasing.

Full survey results here

Snowstorm blankets New York City

I think it finally stopped snowing now. Central Park was turned into a winter wonderland and many people stayed at home. I had a chance to take the train to Harlem and it was nearly empty.


189 Edgecombe avenue coming soon to the market

Take a sneak peek at 189 Edgecombe which will be coming to the market this week. It is a 2 family renovated townhouse with 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms and a huge garden and plenty of original and restored details.


2 South end 9B Battery Park City in contract

2 south end avenue 9B in Battery Park City’s Cove Club is now in contract. The 3 bedroom/2 bath condo is a corner unit with Harbor views, two exposures, poured concrete floors, a huge kitchen and built in sound system. The last asking price was $1,200,000 and the monthly carrying charges are $6250.


The Author-  Brian Silvestry , a licensed real estate broker, has been selling residential and commercial real estate since 1999. He has sold in every neighborhood from Battery Park City to Washington Heights.